Selected writings of John M. Scudder.
To know when a patient has just enough medicine is an art. If one knows his materia medica he will be the better judge of this question, for the effects of some medicines are transient, that of others lasting. Some are rapid in action and in elimination; others slow. One should not over-medicate and, as the writer puts it, "the good influence of a medicine will persist for some time after its administration is suspended." "Enough is as good as a feast."—Ed. Gleaner.
"ENOUGH IS AS GOOD AS A FEAST."—Will the old proverb apply to medicine? I think it will, with a most excellent and needed lesson. The rule is to continue to give medicine until the disease is cured, or until we are sure it is doing no good, or till the patient refuses to take more of it. If a remedy fails to do the good, we change it, and continue to change so frequently that no man could tell which had been of advantage and which had been injurious.
It is a fact that the good influence of medicine will persist for some time after its administration is suspended. It is a fact that time is frequently an essential feature of the curative action of remedies.
I have seen cases where the good effect of a remedy would be seen within an hour in acute disease. I have seen cases where days and even weeks would be necessary in a chronic case.
I think we should make it a rule in practice to be very careful in the selection of the remedy. But, when selected with care and to the best of our knowledge, then give it ample time for action, unless the patient grows worse.
When a remedy has acted well, a time comes when it should be suspended, and allow the natural recuperative powers of the body fair play. It is not easy to determine just when to suspend the remedy, but if one thinks of it and practices it for a time, he will gain the knowledge as he learns other things.
I think the old proverb will especially apply to such remedies as quinine, iron, arsenic, phosphorus, nux, as it certainly would to mercurials if we used them.—SCUDDER, Eclectic Medical Journal, 1888.
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"As a rule, the dose of medicine should be the smallest quantity that will produce the desired result."—Specific Medication, p. 30.
The Biographies of King, Howe, and Scudder, 1912, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M. D.